Chicago mayoral election: Johnson to rally with Bernie Sanders; faith leaders endorse Vallas

ByCraig Wall, Eric Horng, and Christian Piekos WLS logo
Friday, March 31, 2023
Senator Bernie Sanders, MLK's son endorses Brandon Johnson in race for Chicago's next mayor
Chicago voters choose a new mayor Tuesday and both Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson are in the final push of their campaigns.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago voters choose a new mayor Tuesday and both Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson are in the final push of their campaigns.

Johnson is hosting a major rally with Senator Bernie Sanders Thursday and Vallas gained another endorsement, this time from an important group of faith leaders.

Both campaigns are laser-focused on turning out the vote between now and next Tuesday as they squared off at one final mayoral forum Thursday night.

RELATED: Chicago mayoral election: Paul Vallas, Brandon Johnson share differing views on public safety

"Hear me, I'm not going to defund the police," Johnson said.

"It is a defunding plan. You've talked about it over and over again," Vallas said.

Five days before Election Day, the two candidates are still building coalitions.

"April 4 is my birthday. The best birthday present you can give me is winning," said Rhoda Rae Gutierrez, who said she is voting for Johnson.

Johnson campaigned door to door in the 33rd Ward, as well as the 35th Ward Thursday.

But his big focus is a "Get Out the Vote" rally with Senator Bernie Sanders.

"Are you on the side of working people, or are you on the side of the speculators and the billionaires? And i know which side Brandon is on," Sanders said, as he endorsed the candidate. "Our job on Tuesday is to make sure we have the largest voter turnout this city has ever seen."

Johnson's endorsement by a progressive standard bearer was downplayed by Vallas.

RELATED: Chicago mayoral candidates break down how they would manage city budget

"I got the endorsement of our Senator, our senior Senator Dick Durbin, the number one Democrat in the country," Vallas said.

Johnson also spoke Thursday morning at the University of Illinois Medical Center supporting a group of nurses who are calling for more hospital security.

"The least that maybe they can do is respond to the conditions in which, not only those patients are enduring, but those who provide the support and services," Johnson said.

The band of University of Illinois Medical Center ER nurses said they've experienced a series of violent events inside of the hospital and they want more security.

"We are here today to express our frustration and our disgust with hospital administration's inability to keep its staff safe," Paul Pater, a nurse with the UI Medical Center.

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Johnson, who has also been endorsed by the Illinois Nurses Association, spoke out in support of the nurses' calls for action from the hospital.

"These are individuals who are also parents," Johnson said. "They have families and they come to this institution to take care of other people's families and the least that management can do is respond to the conditions in which not only the patients are enduring but those who provide the support and the services for the patients."

ABC7 reached out to the University of Illinois Medical Center for comment and are awaiting a response.

The Johnson rally with Senator Sanders will also feature Martin Luther King III, as well as local progressive members of congress and Chicago rapper Vic Mensa. It gets underway at 7pm.

Brandon Johnson denies involvement to Paul Vallas signs after called out by Chicago Republican Party

In the closing days of the campaign, Vallas greeted Cubs fans and made his pitch for votes on Opening Day at Wrigley Field.

Alderman Tom Tunney campaigned with him.

"Look, it's gonna depend on turnout," Vallas said. "You know, I think we're well positioned. We've been campaigning everywhere. Obviously, we're here on the North Side, but tonight we're gonna be heading to the South Side."

On the South Side is where he'll switch his allegiance to host a rally with White Sox fans.

Vallas was also endorsed by more than 100 Latino faith leaders earlier Thursday morning on the Northwest Side.

Earlier Vallas was joined by former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson and dozens of Hispanic faith leaders who endorsed his candidacy.

The Hispanic vote is seen by pollsters and political observers as perhaps the deciding factor in the mayor's race.

Vallas calls it just one piece of the election victory puzzle.

"I've been campaigning everywhere and this is just a part of reaching out to the entire community," Vallas said.

With just five days until Chicago elects its next leader and with polls showing both candidates in a near dead-heat ABC7 Political Analyst Laura Washington says it could very well be the Latino vote that decides this election.

"The biggest undecided voter portion is the Latino voters, 19% of them are undecided, so that is where the candidates are really going to be honing in the next few days," Washington said. "They are both doing events and reaching out to Latino voters today. That is where they can really pick up ground.

Many voters have already made up their minds. The Chicago Board of Elections reports nearly 139,000 votes have already been cast.

Both candidate released a statement Thursday evening after a New York grand jury voted to indict former President Donald Trump. after he was investigated over hush money payments made on his behalf during his 2016 presidential campaign, sources tell ABC News.

"This unprecedented and historic news begins the process of proving once and for all that no one is above the law and everyone must be held accountable for their actions. A grand jury has reviewed the evidence and found that a crime was committed by a former President - that is unprecedented and must be taken seriously. Donald Trump repeatedly and shamelessly violated the rules and norms that govern the Office of the President, cheapening the most widely respected elected position in the world and demeaning our democracy. He must be held accountable and I'm grateful the first step towards justice has been taken. The threats of retribution and violence that have been made recently by Donald Trump are dangerous and irresponsible. Our nation is still grappling with the devastation of January 6th and just how close the peaceful transfer of power came to being cast aside, and we must always do whatever is necessary to protect the integrity of our democracy," Vallas said.

"Justice must be served," Johnson said.